How Alcohol Affects the Body in Cold Weather

That "feeling" of warmth does not mean your body temperature will be affected.

ByABC News
December 30, 2016, 3:34 PM

— -- Popping a bottle of champagne during a New Year's Eve bash may be a tradition, but drinking in excess while ringing in 2017 can be especially dangerous in cold weather.

Liquor can help you "feel" warmer as blood vessels on the skin's surface open, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. However, that "feeling" of warmth does not mean your body temperature will be affected. You will still be just as likely to get frostbite or hypothermia.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people to abstain from caffeinated and alcoholic beverages while in the cold since "they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly."

Dr. Noah Rosen, director of Northwell Health's Headache Center in Great Neck, New York, said sipping a stiff whiskey drink may sound like a good idea to counteract cold temperatures, but it will only raise your blood alcohol level.

"It's a sensation of warmth but it's not actually increasing core body temperature," Rosen told ABC News.

For those with heart conditions, drinking in cold weather can be hazardous since people may be under additional strain from the cold and not realize it, the American Heart Association warns.

"Alcohol may increase a person’s sensation of warmth and may cause them to underestimate the extra strain their body is under in the cold," the AHA explained on its website.

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